Ever since the world jumped into the trend of dual-cameras and making it a necessity by today’s standards, there are some who thinks two isn’t enough. Samsung is one of them, and decided that their latest Galaxy A7 (2018) mid-range smartphone to be their first ever triple-camera smartphone.
With a grand event that happened not too long ago, does the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) with the price tag of RM1,099 actually lived up to its hype? Let’s dive into this review and find out.
The Galaxy A7 (2018) comes in a rather simple box. Samsung knows that their naming scheme for the A-series is a little like how the MacBooks work – they all go by the same product name, but differentiated by the year that it was released. Hence, we’re calling it the Galaxy A7 (2018).
At the back of the box we can see the specs list together with some feature highlights. Surprisingly, this is a mid-range smartphone with Super AMOLED display.
Opening up the box we can see the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) itself. Digging everything underneath the box itself, we can find a handful of accessories.
We can find the user manual, an included high quality TPU case, an on-ear earphones, a charger, and also micro USB cable.
Seriously though, why is there a on-ear earphones at this day and age?
Looking at the Galaxy A7 (2018) from the front, we can see that Samsung has once again avoided the notch. It’s not a particularly fancy in terms of design, but definitely functional.
At the back of the phone, we see nothing but the triple camera lined up vertically and a also the big Samsung logo. But where is the fingerprint scanner?
Like some of the Xperia flagships in the past, the fingerprint scanner is embedded into the power button itself. That means there’s a flat segment on the right side of the phone – and that’s where the fingerprint scanner is found.
Ergonomically, it is ideally designed for right-handed users since you can position your right thumb on the entire fingerprint scanner and unlock right away. I find this to be cumbersome as I have to pivot my thumb from the fingerprint scanner to the screen.
Luckily for someone like me who is a left-handed user and has a large hand, the side fingerprint scanner works well too. I can unlock the Galaxy A7 (2018) using my left middle finger and use my left thumb to navigate touch the screen right away. It’s something that varies from person to person.
The Galaxy A7 (2018) also comes with a fairly high quality TPU case. It also has the dots to prevent direct contact between the case and the back of the phone. The case accentuates all the buttons, making them easier to press while creating a deep recess for the power button since the fingerprint scanner is embedded on it.
On a side note, the TPU case actually sticks to the side of the sides of the phone. It prevents the case from sliding around, but also makes taking the case apart a little mind-boggling.
[nextpage title=”Connectivity & Ports”]
Perhaps it’s a limitation by chipset, Samsung has opted to use a micro USB port for the Galaxy A7 (2018) instead of a USB-C port – but that’s not a big deal since many other mid-range smartphones are still stuck with micro USB standard anyway. Let’s not forget that power banks in the market have not made the switch just yet.
The Galaxy A7 (2018) can support up to 802.11ac WiFi – which is really rare for mid-range smartphones. At the left side where the card slot is located, we found out that Galaxy A7 (2018) has dedicated SIM 1 + SIM 2 and micro SD card slots.
This triple card slot design is highly sought and definitely a big plus to have, and the Galaxy A7 (2018) supports 4G network on both SIM 1 and SIM 2.
Looking at the bottom of the phone we can find the 3.5mm audio jack, the micro USB port, a microphone, and also the speaker slit.
On the right side of the phone we find the aforementioned fingerprint scanner that’s embedded into the power button and also the volume rocker.
At the top, there’s nothing but another microphone.
Unlike its predecessors, the new Galaxy A7 (2018) is not IP-rated, so don’t go dunking it into the water.
Even though the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is meant to be a mid-range smartphone with a price to match, Samsung still maintained a Super AMOLED screen with 18.5:9 aspect ratio and 2220×1080 pixels in resolution. However, it felt a little different from the Super AMOLED panels on the Galaxy S and Note series of smartphones in terms colors and brightness.
Some of the features found in the Galaxy S series are found in the Galaxy A7 (2018) as well. That includes always-on display and variable white balance as well.
Samsung has avoided the notch trend thus far, and we have to say that’s actually a good thing. We users don’t have to deal with random issues where the notch takes up a part of the app, making buttons unpressable. This is especially true when it comes to games – most notably PUBG Mobile.
On another note, Samsung didn’t include the feature to downscale the resolution from 1080p to 720p. From the previous benchmarks we did on the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note9, downscaling resolution does indeed save battery.
Here’s where the fun begins – literally. The Galaxy A7 (2018) has a total of 3 rear-facing cameras and a single selfie camera. This is the first time that Samsung released a triple camera phone, and it has the specs as listed below:
- Rear-facing cameras
- 24MP f/1.7 main camera with PDAF
- 8MP f/2.4 120° ultra-wide angle camera
- 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor
- Selfie camera
- 24MP f/2.0
Being one of the few smartphone that actually has triple rear-facing cameras, it seems like Samsung is taking a jab at their competitor’s latest flagship smartphone. Samsung also brought the flaw detection feature from the Galaxy Note9 and added scene optimizer mode to the Galaxy A7 (2018).
Here are the sample pictures taken with the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) and you can check out the full resolution of images at our Flickr album here.
By taking pictures are our usual scene, we can see that the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) can actually take decent pictures – albeit not as quick as Samsung’s high-end smartphones. One thing is for sure though – the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) can take quite decent pictures with its main camera.
The wide-angle camera unfortunately does not have autofocus, and hence the images will still appear a little blurry. With a huge 120° wide-angle lens, the images taken will have a fish eye effect.
As for night photography, don’t expect much – but the pictures are still usable for social media.
Samsung also added a new scene optimizer mode, which is what its competitors are calling “AI photography”. Props to Samsung for calling it what it really is without marketing gimmick. This feature just adds preset enhancements for the detected scenes, and Samsung’s scene optimizer is actually pretty good in creating a great image.
Without scene optimizer.
With scene optimizer.
With scene optimizer.
However, the scenes seem to be quite limited and the detection is a little slow, but accurate. The scene optimizer itself is not aggressive and you can “disable” it by selecting full auto mode. The scene optimizer mode is not aggressive and makes enhancements that are reasonable.
As of now, the scene optimizer mode is only available for the main camera.
Just like any other smartphones with a fixed focus camera, the images will definitely appear blurry. The Galaxy A7 (2018) does take decent selfies, but once again – only for social media use.
With the addition of another camera, Samsung had to change the existing camera UI a little. Samsung chose to just tweak it by adding the camera selection buttons right above the camera settings buttons.
Scrolling to scene optimizer mode, we can see new description here.
[nextpage title=”Software – Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.0″]
The entire software experience is more or less the same as what we experienced in the Galaxy S9 and also the Galaxy Note9. I have the same thoughts as well – though there are a few missing features here and there because the Galaxy A7 (2018) is indeed, still a mid-range smartphone.
I was taken aback when I realized the Galaxy A7 (2018) does not have haptic feedback for every button pressed on screen. This option is completely removed from the system itself! However, since I use Gboard as my main keyboard, I can manually set the vibration intensity, hence enabling haptic feedback for Gboard only. Still a weird limitation set by Samsung, though.
As for the side-mounted fingerprint scanner, it’s quite fast and ergonomic.
The Galaxy A7 (2018) is also a great entry point for those who want to venture into the world of Samsung’s powerful ecosystem – namely Samsung Pay. As a Galaxy S9 user, I use Samsung Pay way too frequently since it’s convenient and I get rewarded each time I use it.
Samsung also added a new app here called Samsung Max, which is essentially a data saving app. It can be applied for both mobile and WiFi. How it works is fairly simple – all of your internet activity goes through Samsung’s server. Your activity is “compressed” by Samsung’s server before sending it back to you, the user, and “decompressed”.
Running these servers aren’t cheap – and Samsung doesn’t want users to pay either. That’s why the Samsung Max app is supported by ads. There’s also a “premium mode” where you get a few advantages, and yet still don’t have to pay a single cent.
[nextpage title=”Performance & Gaming”]
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t meant to be a performer since it is indeed a mid-range smartphone. There are the specs that it has:
- 6-inch Super AMOLED display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio and 2220×1080 pixels
- Samsung Exynos 7885 Octa manufactured with 14nm process
- 6x Cortex-A53 @ 1.6GHz + 2x Cortex-A73 @ 2.2GHz
- Mali-G71 GPU
- 2 GPU cores
- 4GB RAM
- 128GB eMMC 5.1 internal storage (expandable with micro SD card)
- 3,300mAh battery
- Android 8.0.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.0
On paper, it indicates that the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t much of a performer. But is that true when it comes to benchmarks?
From benchmark score comparisons, we can see that the Exynos 7885 found in the Galaxy A7 (2018) is slightly better than the Snapdragon 636. But how about the gaming performance?
From what we’ve experienced, benchmark is only half the story. Hence, we’re here to do the gaming test with 3 main games – Honkai Impact 3, Asphalt 9, and also PUBG Mobile. Surprisingly, the Galaxy A7 (2018) actually performs pretty well here.
Honkai Impact 3 is defaulted to what is shown in the screenshot above – but I changed it to 60FPS and surprisingly, it’s very playable. I constantly got above 30FPS and I enjoyed the overall experience. Don’t bother bumping it to high resolution, though.
When it comes to Asphalt 9, the Exynos 7885 actually performs pretty well here too at default graphical settings. There was no lag and I experienced a smooth gameplay overall. You can set it to highest settings, but it will be below 20FPS for sure.
When it comes to PUBG Mobile though, the game automatically selects medium graphic settings for me – but the Exynos 7885 can’t really run it smoothly at that graphical setting. So I set it to lowest graphical setting, and then the frame rates on PUBG Mobile is playable.
Other than that, the Galaxy A7 (2018) is actually very decent in terms of performance.
[nextpage title=”Battery & Charger”]
Knowing the performance of the Exynos 7885 and the magic of AMOLED displays, the Galaxy A7 (2018) is looking pretty good in terms of battery life even though it has a 3,300mAh battery only.
In our usual PCMark battery life test, the Galaxy A7 (2018) can actually last quite a long time – just as efficient as the Snapdragon 636 chipset.
In the world of smartphones these days, we’re presented with 5V 2A chargers as a standard. However, the Galaxy A7 (2018) comes with a 5V 1.55A charger instead. It’s… definitely slower than the commonly-found chargers that we have.
But objectively, how does the 5V 1.55A charger competes? Take a look at the graph below.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to matter if we’re using the included 5V 1.55A or a 5V 2A charger. From the looks of it, the charging speed is limited by the phone itself.
Both chargers will take about 43 minutes to reach 50% of battery charged, and a total of 77 minutes to reach 75% of battery charged. Obviously, it’s not fast.
[nextpage title=”Wrapping up the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) review”]
Throughout my experience with the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018), there are definitely a few things that isn’t particularly favorable for my own personal experience. My biggest gripe is the absence of haptic feedback from the system itself – but that’s the only issue I have.
The side-mounted fingerprint scanner that is embedded in the power button actually feels fantastic. Triple camera setup on the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) offers another level of flexibility we we can now select between ultra-wide and the main camera. Let’s wait for a little longer and see how the Galaxy A9 (2018) actually feels since the A9 has quadruple cameras instead – one main camera, one ultra-wide, and another telephoto camera.
Despite being priced at only RM1,299, the all new Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) still has some exclusive Samsung-only features like Samsung Pay and the all-new Samsung Max. It’s a good mid-range smartphone overall.